Stockport Town FC
Stockport Sports Village
Wednesday 9th October 2019
Stalybridge Celtic 2-1 Chorley
National League U19 League Cup
A HISTORY OF FOOTBALL AT SSV
The first records I can find of anyone playing at the venue is 1970 when Woodley Sports FC was formed. They played at the ground which was then known as the Neil Rourke Memorial Stadium or Lambeth Grove. They started out in local football before moving to the Manchester League in 1988. Champions of Division 1, they won promotion to the Premier in 1992. They were runners-up in their first season before leaving to join the North West Counties League in 1997. Starting in the second tier, they were champions in the year 2000. A 4th place finish in Division 1 in 2005 was good enough for promotion to the Northern Premier League. They stayed in Division 1 for the entirety of their stay, a highlight being the 4th place finish in 2006 when they went on to lose to Gresley Rovers in the playoffs. An expected windfall from the sale of striker Liam Dickinson to Stockport County never materialised due to the league club going into administration, though they also produced Anthony Sarvevic. However, in 2012, a name change to Stockport Sports coincided with them dropping back down to the North West Counties League, despite finishing 8th. They remained here until 2015 when they were thrown out of the league after failing to fulfil a number of fixtures. There were never any great runs in the national cups, but a number of local cups were won. Most notable was the Cheshire Senior Cup win in 2004 when they defeated Witton Albion 2-1. They remain the lowest-ranked team to ever win the cup.
A new club, Stockport Town was established in 2014, joining the North West Counties League a year later. They finished 4th in their debut season and have enjoyed three consecutive 10th place finishes, all in the lower tier. They are yet to enter the FA Cup, but reached the FA Vase 1st Round in 2016, beating Alsager Town before losing out to Sunderland Ryhope Colliery Welfare. The stadium has a capacity of 2,384 and has a number of smaller outer pitches. It’s based in a suburb of Stockport, called Woodley. It’s been home to several mills over the years, and also has four pubs. These formed part of the ‘Ring Of Death’- a pub crawl consisting of 20 pubs, traditionally undertaken by locals during the festive period.
Though there was plenty to do and see in Manchester, I fancied an afternoon game. There was plenty of choices and I eventually plumped for the 2pm game between Stalybridge Celtic and Chorley, being played at Stockport Sports Village. On the day of the game, I awoke early and spent a few hours in my hotel room before leaving at 8.45. I'd just missed a bus, so had to wait 15 minutes for the next one. Whilst checking if the game was still on, I noticed that FC United had an 11.30 kick-off that would have been doable by car, but sadly public transport would mean that I'd not get to my planned game in time. I had a brief look around the shops before heading to the National Football Museum. I'd been a few times before for free and wasn't going to go now they were charging a tenner. But in the end, I was glad I did as they'd got a whole load of new stuff and I got my picture taken with the trophy. I had an early lunch at Taco Bell before getting the bus to Stockport. After picking up some drinks, I got the bus to near the ground, arriving at 1.40.
Both sides had enjoyed difficult starts to the season with Stalybridge having lost 5-1 at Marine and 9-2 to Preston North End Myerscough. Chorley had lost 8-1 at home to Wrexham and 7-2 at Warrington, so I was hoping for some goals. The first real chance came for Stalybridge on 4 minutes, Joe Doran forcing the visiting keeper into a great save with a shot from outside the area. Stalybridge were the better side early on, but even so, Chorley had the ball in the net on 15 minutes, only for it to be ruled out for offside. They started to come into the game more and on 21 minutes, they took the lead. It was a lovely strike by #9 from 20 yards that found the top right-hand corner. A passing storm came over at this point, wind and rain with even the people in the top row of the stand getting drenched. I sheltered in the turnstile until it passed. There were plenty of chances for either side, but nothing really clear-cut. Stalybridge Celtic would equalise on 63 minutes, a good through ball found #8 who finished from just inside the area. I was hoping that the game would go to penalties at this point, but Chorley came close with 15 minutes to go, hitting the post from outside the area. It would be Stalybridge that got the winner with a minute to go, another good through ball finding #8 who finished with an angled shot from 10 yards. It had been good entertainment for the 12 present and the best game of the three that I saw on the trip.
The STOCKPORT SPORTS VILLAGE is a smart venue and well-kept. There's the main stand with 192 seats and a bit of cover beside this thanks to the overhang from the sports centre. There's a metal stand with a mixture of sitting and standing behind the goal with a capacity of around 200. The rest of the ground is open and has a capacity of 2,384 overall. The facilities at the ground were not open when I went, though there are vending machines plus other shops and pubs within a ten-minute walk.